Frozen I thought as I looked at the icy ground underneath. Through the sheer glass of the ice, I could see the blades of grass trying to wriggle out, squirming uncomfortably, trying to retain the last signs of life they had. I had found myself in the same position many times already. I had tried wriggling my way out situations and instead landed in the shiftiness of my body. I squirmed uncomfortably, in my million body aches, and tried to subside them by means of will, “I release and let go and I forgive. I release and let go and forgive myself,” I repeated mantra, an incessant effort to subside pain. I needed to forgive myself for many things- my inability to sustain myself, my need for validation, my constant quest for meaning and my need, almost addiction to bad company. As I thought about my “friends” I thought about how many of them I could actually call my own. There were none.
I realized how essentially alone I was. In conversations and fake smiles and love talks and gestures, I remained empty. I was a hollow vessel, waiting to be filled- by just anything or anyone that came along. Friends failed the test, alcohol let me down miserably, and love remained dry and blank, like a sheet of paper. In all instances, I was waiting, waiting to be filled. And then there was him. The soft perfume of his skin permeated mine and filled my senses with a wonder that was astonishing. Even in the passionate embrace of love, I remained incomplete. I was going insane. My body shifted uncomfortably, deforming itself to fit into pieces too small for it. It looked through the keyhole of hope and squeezed itself through it till it came out, painful and raw in its contorted form. Hope was what kept it alive. Hope for another day, another time, another man, and another light. But hope seemed to be an illusion- the more I chased it, the further it evaded me. It was a mirage, a distant possibility promising fruits in the future and disappearing in the timeless pain of the present. Nothing seemed to bring repose. My body was weary, my mind tired and I wanted rest. I wanted peace. I wanted home.
Home. I rolled the word around in my mouth with the whipped cream of the hot cocoa I was sipping. “Sorry,” I said, rolling my Rs like the way I had learnt it here as I accidentally bumped into a girl. Learning to be white I called it, as I picked up a new trait from the Americans everyday. I learnt that plastering a smile on your face while holding doors open for multiracial strangers was considered courteous, while excluding them out of conversation wasn’t. I learnt that open dialogues consisted mainly of individuals eager to discuss and determine their sexual identity while conveniently leaving out a majority of voices who defined identity otherwise. I mastered the subtle differences between a latte and mocha, used terms like “cultural appropriation”, worried about the fate of the country and complained about the throes of life to my therapist once a month. I was trying to erase the earth from my skin, the monsoon showers from my tears and the light from the dark of my eyes as I gradually donned the white of America.
In the crevices of my being I longed for the kiss of the sun, the earth of my land and the scent of hot frothing chai every morning. I missed the rainbow of my homeland; I had been living in white for too long. I longed to feel grounded in familiarity; I had imagined her smile soft and welcoming, her arms open wide promising settlement. But the more I looked down that road, the farther away it seemed. Would things be the same when I returned? Would anyone remember my absence? Would anyone even notice? I tossed around in my bed mulling over these questions trying to find solace in the darkness of my eerily quiet room. I was lost; I had contorted beyond my own recognition. I couldn’t settle anywhere- I felt incomplete in the face of love; I lacked recognition in my mother’s eyes and I felt lonely in the company of friends. Not a single soul was ready to anchor mine. Lonely and desolate, I proceeded towards the bathroom and pushed open the door. Scrawled across the wall in black letters was, “You can’t make homes out of human beings. Someone should have already told you that.”